HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (September 13, 2017) — Six patients at a sweltering Hollywood nursing home died in Hurricane Irma’s aftermath, authorities said Wednesday, as people confronted a multitude of new hazards in the storm’s wake, including oppressive heat, brush-clearing accidents and lethal fumes from generators.
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related, and added: “The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation.” He did not elaborate.
Three patients were found dead at the nursing home early Wednesday, and three more died at the hospital after a total of more than 100 were evacuated, authorities said.
The air conditioning was out, but Sanchez said it remained under investigation whether power was entirely cut. He didn’t answer questions regarding whether a generator was running inside the place.
Also in the Miami area, a Coral Gables apartment building was evacuated after authorities determined a lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants, while officers arrived at the huge Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines to help people on upper floors without access to working elevators. More than half the community of 15,000 residents lacked power.
In addition, at least five people died and more than a dozen were treated after breathing carbon monoxide fumes from generators in the Orlando, Miami and Daytona Beach areas.
Not counting the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida have died under in Irma-related circumstances, many of them well after the storm had passed. A Tampa man died after the chain saw he was using to remove branches kicked back and cut his carotid artery.
Elsewhere, Irma has been blamed for four deaths in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean.